The Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
We were flying back home on Turkish Air in business class from the Maldives to New York with a long layover in Istanbul. From Male, we arrived in Istanbul at 5:30am with the next flight leaving to Warsaw at 12:25pm. We debated going into the city for a couple hours just to get outside but we soon realized that would not be necessary. I'm guessing most things would be closed early in morning and we would not be able to do much before heading back to the airport.
The Turkish Air Lounge “CIP Lounge” is SO big they advertise that “it is bigger than some airports.” How big? It is 5,900 square meters (or over 63,000 square feet). It felt more like a nice hotel where everything was free.
If there is any place I would choose to be stuck for a long layover, for sure it would be this Turkish Air Lounge Istanbul.
- Free Wi-Fi
- Printers and computers
- Meeting rooms
- Teleconference room
- A wide range of food and beverages
- A wide selection of local and international papers/magazines
- Media wall
- Prayer room
- Billiards room
- Suit rooms
- Playroom for children
- Golf simulator
- Electronic diversions
I started exploring the lounge. The cook here made Turkish gözleme (hand-rolled dough brushed with butter and eggs, then filled with toppings like feta, spinach, meat, potatoes). That's as fresh as it gets!
There is a tea brewing station. You can choose from many delicious choices but be sure to skip the teabags – scoop up some fresh tea from the glass jars which is far superior.
I love this fresh brewed hibiscus tea. The teabags from the supermarket are not quite the same thing as brewing fresh loose tea like this. So hibiscus tea I made:
Fresh fruits – plenty of red and green apples, grapes and more.
Thirsty? As much water, soda, juice, seltzer, and Turkish Ayran (not milk) as you can drink is placed in several different large refrigerators at every side of the lounge.
Alcohol? Yes, of course! Plenty of liquor and wine is all complimentary.
Newspapers – they mostly in Turkish so not for me…
Panini Station – freshly grilled paninis on request
Must leave space to try everything…the more I walk around the more stations I discover.
Omelet station – It was early morning so happy to see this station. Yes, I will definitely have some eggs.
Did I mention they have a bakery too? The bakery mades fresh breads – bagels, rolls, and more. Lets try one of each (and share half with my better half). Who can say no to freshly baked bread? Not me.
Veggie & Cheese station: I'm approaching full status so I skip these items. Nothing really new here anyway.
Fresh honeycomb honey – I always try honey from the honeycomb whenever it is available. Mmmm!
Olives and yogurt. I skipped this but it all looked very good and fresh.
Olive station: In case the olive selection doesn't do it for you, there's an entire olive station in the center of the lounge (near the big staircase). There were at least 10 different type of olives to nibble on.
Cereal and milk (or was it oatmeal in the silver bowl?) – no way am I eating this when there is so much amazing fresh made food available! This is a waste of space in my opinion but this place is enormous it doesn't matter! A lot of different options are sure to satisfy just about anyone.
The business center blends in with the rest of the open layout. No crappy old computers that take forever to load a browser, then forever again to load a webpage. These are new Apple iMACs – 27 inch I believe. It's not important for me as long as I can get a wifi connection for my MacBook Air.
Grand piano – unfortunately no one was playing until later when we had to leave. Would have been a nice treat!
Video games: Two Playstation 4's were setup. I tried out the basketball game for a few minutes.
Remote control car racetrack: The Toys R Us kid in me got excited when I saw this huge RC car racetrack. I used to play with a much much much smaller version of this when I was a kid. I definitely wanted to try this when it got freed up. When I came back a few hours later, it was free. But nothing worked. Damn the previous jerk who broke it then ran away! I was really looking forward to this! Now what am I going to do (as if someone can get bored here!)? Lets check out the golf simulation center.
Golf simulation – looks very cool. I'm terrible in golf but I'd love to give this a try. But first I need to find the masseuse to sign up for a free massage. Yes, they have a masseuse walk around giving massages. Does it get better? Yep.
Fresh made simits (Turkish round sesame bread – like a cross between a sesame bagel and a pretzel). These were frequently replenished with more fresh simit's. Want to see how a simit is made – watch this youtube video.
See that white stuff on the right side of the cart? That's butter – but not just any butter. It was countryside butter from Trabzon (Trabzon koy tereyagi), a city on the Black Sea coast of northeastern Turkey. I had no idea if that was supposed to be special but really enjoyed eating it!
Dessert. Ok, enough breakfast. I definitely have not had enough yet. Lets see what they have for dessert. Because I need need dessert after breakfast, I grab a small piece of just about everything (to share of course!).
Refreshing drinks: Raspberry, Lime/Orange, Mint/Lemon, Iced Tea. Sure why not, desserty drinks.
No! No! Apple strudel, apricot tart, sweet curd strudel. Please stop! I couldn't resist and tried these and came back for seconds of the apple strudel (one of my favorites!). Safe to say I'm getting ready to burst with all this food. Anyone want to have an eating contest with me?
More cakes and pastries. I can't really look at anymore desserts or food for that matter!
Snacks: I found this table a little later. Is there any space left? How can I leave without trying everything?
This was a long layover and I wanted to shower before continuing on to my next two flights (Istanbul to Warsaw to New York). There are rules. The showers are only available to Business Class passengers and Elite Plus card members. You must be on an international connecting flight, one of the flights must be at least 8 hours and there must be 4-7 hours between arrival and departure. I had to read that a few times because I wasn't sure if I was allowed to use it.
We made a reservation for the shower. The wait was about 2 hours. Our flight left soon after that so we didn't have much time if they are delayed. Our layover was around 7 hours and I almost didn't get to use the shower because we waited so long to make a reservation.
TIP: Make your shower reservation as soon as you get to the lounge to make sure you get a shower. I didn't expect to have to wait 2 hours but the shower suites are thoroughly cleaned and reset after every use.
Wait, there's more. Of course, they have a movie theater here too.
And a pool table & a library. They should consider renting small private rooms since they have everything else you might need to live here.
The TV Lounge plays several different channels. Grab a headset on the left side so you can listen to your preferred channel.
The bathrooms were immaculate! I didn't see the usual pee stains under the urinals.
After my shower, the staff was putting out the lunch – most of the food stations switched out the food options. I was not the least bit hungry, and I didn't have much time before my next flight but how can I leave without trying the new options. I grabbed a couple pide (Turkish pizzas) fresh out of the oven — delicious! I loved them and but they went so fast that when I came back for seconds, they were all gone (and that's why I don't have a photo of them). We are talking about 10 minutes max!
DESSERTS – Part 2
With the new lunch menu comes all new desserts. Very VERY sweet ones. These are the desserts I typically see at Turkish restaurants – lots of honey and pistachio. The options included kadayif, pastry with cream & pistachio, baked rice pudding (front and center), tulumba dessert, pudding with caramel base, and some variations of baklava. Most of these were too sweet for me. Our favorite: the rice pudding!
Phew… that was a rough 7 hour layover. And I don't have to worry about the food that will be served on the next flight or the next 24 hours!